Report: Euro Execs Have Bad E-Commerce Attitudes

While the emerging electronic commerce industry is enjoying success in many areas, a recent study found that there is a surprising hesitancy among many European senior executives to embrace Internet-based business.


The study, conducted by Andersen
Consulting
, revealed that these attitudes may be jeopardizing the
continent’s long-term competitiveness.


While 82% of the executives surveyed believe that e-commerce will have a
strategic impact on their businesses in the future, only 39% are taking
steps today to incorporate e-commerce into their current operations and
strategies. Furthermore, only 19% of European executives regard e-commerce
as a serious competitive threat to their business today.


Participants cited similar reasons for their hesitancy. One-half of
respondents believed a lack of consumer understanding of e-commerce is a
problem. A majority of respondents viewed privacy, security, and the lack
of a framework for commercial regulation as key barriers. More than 80% of
executives also mentioned the need for governments to work together for a
common international framework.


“In light of the obvious advantages to first-movers in the emerging
electronic economy, European business is at a crossroads. We face a stark
choice between two very different scenarios,” said Rosemary O’Mahony,
Andersen Consulting’s managing partner-Technology for Europe, Middle East,
Africa and India.


“We could fulfill the promise of ‘eEurope,’ in which e-commerce fuels an
explosion of trade, economic opportunity and job growth, or we could reach
a dead-end, where a wait-and-see attitude allows the rest of the world to
extend its lead in e-commerce and Europe finds itself stuck in an economic
cul-de-sac.”


The study found there are reasons to be optimistic, however. Currently,
there are many successful e-commerce activities throughout Europe, and most
countries also have technology, such as digital mobile telephony, to
facilitate future e-commerce applications.


Andersen recommended in the study that businesses and governments should
work together to improve Europe’s attitude toward e-commerce. After all, it
is a high-stakes industry. Worldwide e-commerce is currently estimated at
about $10 billion and is expected to soar to $500 billion by 2002.


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